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Friday, April 12, 2024
HomeNewsMahachi Villagers Struggle Amidst Repeated Court Appearances Over Land Dispute

Mahachi Villagers Struggle Amidst Repeated Court Appearances Over Land Dispute

By Artwell Sithole

CHIPINGE- Over 30 villagers from Mahachi area are enduring financial strain due to repeated appearances before the Chipinge Magistrates Court following their arrest in connection with a land dispute with Chipinge Rural District Council.

The villagers were arrested on the 5th of February 2024 and have been attending court sessions in Chipinge town, 120 kilometres away from their area.

Godfrey Mutanda, one of the accused Mahachi villagers, shed light on the ordeal they face, articulating the financial burdens thrust upon them.

“Mahachi village, housing over 500 households, has seen thirty villagers summoned to court, myself included,” he disclosed.

“We’ve been attending court sessions persistently since February 5th, only to witness constant postponements. Each trip to Chipinge incurs a minimum expenditure of $20 per individual, covering transport, sustenance, and ablution facilities. This financial strain compounds the challenges we already face, particularly with the specter of an impending drought looming over us.”

Mutanda expressed gratitude towards the Platform for Youth and Community Development and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights for chipping in with support saying without them it could have been difficult to attend court hearings.

“Without PYCD’s linkage to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, we, as villagers, would have been severely handicapped in meeting legal expenses,” he acknowledged.

Emirates

Echoing Mutanda’s sentiments, another villager, Bright Magodo, lamented the recurrent court appearances and questioned the rationale behind their eviction from ancestral lands.

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“This land is our heritage, and the eviction perplexes us,” Magodo remarked.

“We’ve endured over ten court appearances, with the associated costs crippling our livelihoods. I’ve even struggled to cover my children’s school fees this term, as the meager earnings from my errands are siphoned into court expenses.”

Magodo highlighted the proliferation of disinformation within the community concerning the eviction issue.

Local governance expert Allan Murozvi, closely monitoring the court proceedings, underscored the complexities of the case.

“Chipinge Rural District Council accuses Mahachi villagers of encroaching upon gazetted land, citing the Regional Town Country Planning Act,” said Murozvi.

“However, they rely on colonial-era maps from the British South African Company to bolster their claims, criminalizing the villagers in the process. State witnesses have failed to substantiate allegations of illegal occupation or unauthorized development by the villagers,” he added.

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